A Florida woman is suing Toyota, claiming that soy-based insulation made the wires in her car an attractive edible for rats, squirrels and other rodents, who caused major damage to her RAV4.
Janice Toler filed a class-action lawsuit against Toyota Monday in federal court.
The car company changed from petroleum-based wire insulation "in the name of profit and cost-cutting," the lawsuit says.
Rodents caused $5,500 in damage to Toler's 2015 RAV4, which the dealership refused to fix under her warranty, Toler said in the suit.
She took her vehicle to a Toyota dealership on Oct. 13 and a service consultant told her that rodents had done extensive damage, the lawsuit says.
He showed her where the rodents had chewed through the wires and left behind urine and feces, Toler said.
The Toyota employee told her that "the car would require a total rewiring because rodents had chewed up almost every wire in the engine compartment," the lawsuit says.
When she called the company's regional office to complain, Toler claims that the person she spoke with on the phone said rodent damage is "not Toyota's problem."
In the lawsuit, Toler said she considers the soy-based insulation a defect, which should be covered under the warranty.
Toyota considers rodent damage "an environmental condition that is not covered under the warranty," the suit says.
Toler points to numerous other Toyota owners who have filed complaints with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration over rodent damage connected to soy-based wire insulation.
One person told the NTHSA that a 2015 RAV4 that had been owned for 10 days stopped working because of rodent damage.
As of Tuesday morning, Toyota had not responded to the lawsuit.